In the news: How we read

The Boston Globe recently published a series of articles on the past, present, and future of reading, and it got me thinking about how the history of reading (as a process) is entwined with the history of the book (as a physical—and now digital—object). In this vein, I was able to use Longreads to find number of extremely interesting articles on how we read. So, perhaps as a precursor to some of the things I’d like to write about in the coming semester, when I’ll be learning more about book history, this installation of In The News presents several pieces along those lines, including the Globe series.

From The New Yorker

In this 2009 article, Nicholson Baker writes about his experiences with—and critiques—the Kindle.

From The Morning News

The evolution, at the hands of modern technology, of book fiend and author Alexander Chee’s reading habits might reflect your own.

From The Wall Street Journal

This 2009 article speculates about what the digital realm might mean for how we approach reading books. Its predictions regarding our collective attention spans and consumption of media are bound to seem a little bleak in the eyes of book lovers, but they’re worth considering.

From The Boston Globe

Part 1

Readers used to speak aloud the words their eyes saw; now, they largely stay silent.

Part 2

The transitional piece—where are we now, and where are we going? This article has a number of interesting  interview-based anecdotes, and it touches upon the idea of licensing versus ownership.

Part 3

The last article in the series is less about what we’ll be holding (or not) in our hands than it is about how the physical act of reading might change.

From McSweeney’s

You might know that typography has a huge effect on how we read. But did you know that Gutenberg was the first typographer?

From PhiloBiblos

Think paper is dead? Learn about the flipback book, a new paper format that, in a sense, mimics reading on a mobile phone. Flipbacks are apparently quite popular in Holland, where they were first introduced. It doesn’t seem like these are available in the U.S. at the moment, but if/when they are I’d be really curious to try one out.

♦ ♦

I’ve found that my attention span has diminished quite a bit over time; as a child, I could read a novel for hours straight, but now I find myself more readily distracted, no longer so easily engrossed. Luckily, forcing myself to sit down with some pleasure reading on a regular basis has improved this problem. Surely I’m not the only one suffering from the instant-gratification mindset of the Internet Age. What are your reading habits? How have they changed over time?


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